PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte’s former police chief and 13 other cops should be charged for their involvement in the recycling of illegal drugs from a legitimate police operation in 2013, the Philippine National Police said.

In a reply, the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) asked the Justice department to indict the police officers for graft and drug trafficking in a reopened case.

“In this amended complaint, the respondents proffered more general denial and alibi as defence, which jurisprudence has long considered weak and unreliable,” the police said.

The CIDG also argued the reinvestigation of the case, which was dismissed in 2014, does not violate the police officers’ rights.

“Their liberty was not deprived without due process of law and they are still presumed innocent until the contrary is proved,” it said. “They have a right to speedy disposition of the case. Verily, their argument challenging the authority is misplaced in this legal battle,” it added.

Mr. Albayalde challenged the authority of the Justice department to reopen the complaint, noting that a preliminary probe may only be re-opened when it has been submitted for resolution but before its promulgation.

A Senate committee earlier recommended the filing of criminal charges against the police officers.

Government prosecutors have given the officers until Nov. 18 to answer the CIDG’s reply.

The Justice department re-opened the case after former CIDG chief Benjamin B. Magalong, now Baguio City mayor, disclosed at a Senate hearing last month the involvement of the 13 cops in a questionable buy-bust operation on Nov. 29, 2013.

The cops claimed to have seized 38 kilos of drugs but an investigation showed that they seized about 200 kilos of illegal drugs worth P648 million and about P10 million in cash. The suspected drug trafficker also paid them P50 million to present a different person, Mr. Magalong said.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron N. Aquino told senators that during a probe when he was still Central Luzon regional director, Mr. Albayalde, then acting regional director for Metro Manila, had sought to stop the dismissal of the 13 cops in 2016. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas